Monday, March 12, 2012

Even More On Captchas

It's been almost two weeks since my last article on the subject of captchas, those annoying scribbles that many comment forms insist you interpret properly so that you can prove you're not a computer. So, it's probably time for another one.

The best way I've found to deal with them is with my web browser's zoom feature. Here, reprinted from previous articles, is the short course on how to use them:

  • Zoom in (enlarge): Ctrl-+
  • Zoom out (reduce): Ctrl--
  • Reset to normal size: Ctrl-0
Where Ctrl- followed by a symbol means hold down that key in the lower corner of the keyboard marked Ctrl, and then hit the key represented by the symbol. For those using Apple computers, substitute the Command key for the Ctrl key.

What I didn't explicitly mention before is that you can hit the Ctrl-+ key multiple times to make what you want to see (captchas, in this case) as big as you want. Here's a sample image I took today of a Google comment form at normal size:

then after hitting the zoom in key three times, it's something that's large enough to interpret:


Maybe. It also might be helpful to note that Google's captchas are distorted versions of the font that most modern browsers use to display text. If what you type doesn't resemble the letters in the captcha, then you're probably not typing the right thing.

Anyway, your comments are important, so let me know if this isn't enough help, and we'll see what else I can do without increasing my workload too much.


5 comments:

Expat said...

About the grouse, the problem was a time-out of the bloody proof that I was not a robot and had to try an even longer version to get the comment posted. The grouse was put on as an afterthought before Publish was achieved. On an even earlier comment, about four tries were made, there is/is not a case sensitivity involved e.g. l and I which are only slightly different than 1 (lower case L or upper case i which can be difficult with the number 1), or S and 5 or a displaced or distorted lower case G. After the thirtieth anniversary of turning 39, the eyes aren't what they once were, plus encroaching dyslexia adds a certain spice of misapprehension, sometimes to great personal amusement.

OK, I'll try again with the game: "The characters you entered didn't match the word verification. Please try again."

Cujo359 said...

Well, I find the things annoying anyway. I understand most of the design decisions that went into captchas, but they're still a pain.

I don't know whether the captchas used here are case-sensitive or not. It hadn't occurred to me to wonder, I'm sorry to say. I'm sure, though, that if it had and I had figured that out, in a few months' time that answer wouldn't have been valid.

Making the page bigger usually works. At least, it works as reliably as anything can.

Cujo359 said...

Oh, and thanks for hanging in there..

Ann said...

My problem with captchas is that lately my screen has been blank and there is nothing there to see to type when it says 'Type the two words'. How do you get an image there when there isn't one and you hit the circle thingy and its still blank? The ? just lets you send a comment to google which they do nothing to help you with.

So that leaves listening to the audio. This is frustrating because you don't know if you have to type or hit the number keys. You think you got it right and enter it. But it keeps on saying 'the characters you entered didn't match the word verification. Please try again.'I'm having this problem again and wonder how many times I should try before giving up.

Cujo359 said...

Sounds like you're way ahead of me, Ann. I've never even tried that sound thingy. Guess I'll have to one of these days...

Meanwhile, I can think of three possible reasons why you aren't seeing captchas. Depending what site you're visiting, they may or may not apply.

1. The domain ("website") that is actually producing the captchas is down, or its domain name isn't coming up when your browser does a name (DNS) query. There's nothing you can do about that one, I'm afraid. I don't think this applies to Blogspot/Google, though. I believe it does its own. The generated images definitely are served up by Google.

2. You don't have Javascript enabled, or if you're running something like the Firefox NoScript extension, you don't have a necessary domain enabled. This one often bites me.

3. Your browser is set up to filter images (unlikely), or there's a web proxy that's blocking them. If you're at home, then it's at least possible you have a web proxy running on your Internet router. If you're at work, your network admins will know whether they're trying to do such a thing.

As for what to do about trying to recover, the thing I usually try to do first, assuming what you've tried has failed:

* Start up my favorite editor (for me, that's a terminal window and vi), and copy and paste the comment into it. I emphasize the word "copy", because you don't need to remove your comment from the comment form. That's done in Windows by grabbing all the text, then typing Ctrl-C (a single key, not the string). Windows used to have a utility called Notepad that was perfect for this sort of thing, but it's either hard to find or optional on newer Windows. You need a program that won't try to interpret or convert the HTML tags.

* Reload the comments page.

Sometimes that clears it. If it doesn't, you have a copy of your comment that you can e-mail.